News, Culture & Society

JANET STREET-PORTER: Prince Andrew has no skills and no shame

Former Naval Officer, 59, seeks employment, all offers considered. High-ranking member of the Royal Family, former loyal friend of disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, now deceased.

Skills; pilot’s licence, excellent golf handicap, enthusiasm for any project which involves a free stay in a five star hotel. How would you describe yourself? Honourable.

References supplied by two loyal daughters and former wife.

Prince Andrew with his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie at St Paul’s in June 2016

What can the Palace do with Prince Andrew? Where can they offload this increasingly embarrassing family member? There must be a British Colony somewhere with a golf club he can run. Charities and businesses are axeing Andrew from their letterheads and dropping their sponsorship of his business events. Universities are reviewing their links to the duke, and major arts organisations (once proud to have a royal patron) have declined to comment.

Prince Andrew isn’t actually on trial, but in the eyes of most viewers, his BBC TV interview was an unmitigated disaster, with only 6 per cent of the public convinced he was telling the truth about his relationship with the disgraced paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Instead of clarifying the position, we were left with waffle and prevarication. Meanwhile, a growing list of women have come forward to claim that Mr Epstein groomed them to perform sexual acts on him and his friends when they were under age or still teenagers, and are calling for Andrew to come to the USA and testify in court.

Prince Andrew ‘cannot recall ever meeting’ Virginia Roberts who claims that Epstein and his friend Ghislaine Maxwell encouraged her to have sex with the Prince on three occasions, the first when she was just 17 – which is over the age of consent in the UK, but not in every state in the USA.

The Duke of York walks with his two daughters on The Mall in London in June 2016

The Duke of York walks with his two daughters on The Mall in London in June 2016

Whatever the truth, Prince Andrew’s main crime seems to be a total lack of empathy, an inability to understand the interview would have been an appropriate time to offer his sympathy to Epstein’s victims, a man who he described as a friend, albeit one that he took several years to decide to dump.

Andrew’s secondary offence is the inability to understand why – after Epstein was convicted for soliciting underage girls for prostitution in 2008- it wasn’t a good idea to spend four days in his house in New York in 2010, and even borrow money to help pay off his wife’s debts.

Mind you, the Duchess of York didn’t exhibit much common sense by accepting this money, but after the scandal in 1992 when she (separated from but still married to Andrew) was caught having her toes sucked by her lover John Bryan, most of us realise that Sarah is a bit of a loose cannon (and that’s being polite).

The Duchess narrowly skirted bankruptcy after running up debts of £2million, and has tried her hand as a TV presenter, written children’s books, flogged china and weight loss-products and sold her story on numerous occasions, all to try and stay solvent.

Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein are pictured together in New York's Central Park in 2010

Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein are pictured together in New York’s Central Park in 2010

Sarah even told an undercover reporter that if she received £500,000, Andrew would meet them with some really useful business contacts.

In spite of all her shortcomings, Sarah has clung on to her place in Andrew’s affections and the York family are incredibly loyal to each other.

So we might understand why Andrew can describe himself as a loyal and honourable man – but it’s one thing to bale out the mother of your daughters, another to invite a convicted paedophile to your daughter’s party in a Royal Palace.

The scandal involving Andrew’s relationship with Epstein had been brewing for over a decade, enough time (you would have thought) for the Prince to have prepared a decent exit strategy.

But Andrew lacks common sense. He’s surrounded by yes people, and – since leaving the Navy at the relatively young age of 41- has never had a job interview, or full time employment.

Andrew at Buckingham Palace with Emily Maitlis before the BBC interview shown on Saturday

Andrew at Buckingham Palace with Emily Maitlis before the BBC interview shown on Saturday

The Queen’s second son has spent almost six decades in the public eye without ever really growing up.

Somewhere along the way, between his horrid boarding school and naval college, a period in the Royal Navy, including serving on the front line during the Falklands War, nobody thought to enlighten Prince Andrew about some realities of modern life.

He might have been connected to 189 charities and public organisations, but his experience of life seems woefully threadbare, begging the question, is he naïve or just really dumb?

Consider this – if you go to stay at a single man’s house and scantily clad women roughly the same age as your daughters are floating in and out at all hours (as many witnesses have confirmed was the case at Mr Epstein’s), you might wonder what these teenagers are doing – especially if they don’t have a duster or a mop in their hands. And if your bathroom contains soaps in the shape of the male member and female genitalia, you might be getting a few worrying insights into your host’s sexual tastes.

When Andrew visited Epstein in 2010, his host had recently been released after serving a jail sentence for sex crimes with under-age girls. Andrew said, he simply stayed there ‘because it was convenient’, and even attended a dinner party, allegedly to celebrate Mr Epstein’s freedom.

According to Andrew, Epstein introduced him to useful business contacts and the Prince availed himself of free accomodation on numerous occasions, in New York, Florida and the British Virgin Islands and travelled on Epstein’s jet.

How can a man with two teenage daughters hang out with a man who likes the company of teenage girls? Could it be because your friend knows something about you that’s not for public consumption? Or is the access to his address book worth ignoring the unpalatable?

After Andrew’s friendship with Epstein emerged in photos in 2011, he stood down as the UK’s Trade Envoy, so it was goodbye to lavish travel, hotels and free meals.

His finances remain mysterious – his house was sold for £3million more than the asking price, and he then bought a swiss chalet valued at £13million.

He’s rumoured to have spent over £7.5 million improving his current home, Royal Lodge, in Windsor Great Park.

Andrew with Sarah, Duchess of York and their daughters in Switzerland in February 2001

Andrew with Sarah, Duchess of York and their daughters in Switzerland in February 2001

The Queen pays for his office and a small staff, less than £300,000 and his naval pension is worth just £20,000- so who bankrolls the Prince? In 2014 he set up a business scheme for young entrepreneurs, Pitch@Palace, connecting young entrepreneurs to investors, and it has been a success – but it looks as if the Prince might not be welcomed by sponsors in the future.

The one person who has been singing Andrew’s praises is his former wife – who posted the following on Instagram: ‘Andrew is a true gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness and goodness of always seeing the best in people’. His former girlfriend, Koo Stark, describes him as ‘a good man’.

Andrew and Sarah surely deserve each other. She’s nuts (in a whacky nice way) and he’s solid and stupid – but whether his unthinking support of an extremely dodgy friend will result in serious damage to the Royal Family, only time will tell. Meanwhile, consider the real victims – the young women who lost their innocence and were brutally abused by Mr Epstein, and the Prince’s two innocent daughters, dragged into a scandal by their dumb dad.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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